Minneapolis-based Buca, which operates two Southern Italian restaurant chains, has posted its historical best one-week sales, which topped US$5.7m for the week ending 12 May 2002.

Buca broke its previous one-week record by nearly US$500,000, which was set during the week ending 17 Feb. 2002, which included Valentine’s Day.

Joseph P. Micatrotto, Buca chairman, president and CEO, commented: “Increased guest visits were the key contributor to the record setting sales pace we experienced in the past few weeks.

The company also reported that comparable restaurant sales have turned positive for the Buca di Beppo concept, as projected, and have been positive for each week since mid-April.

“we are confident that comparable restaurant sales for those restaurants will be positive for the Q2,” added Micatrotto: “In the markets where we began radio advertising in mid-April, our comparable restaurant sales trends have been significantly higher than in the markets without radio advertising.”

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“Vinny Testa’s concept continues to improve and we anticipate that comparable restaurant sales for those restaurants will turn positive in the Q3. We remain confident that comparable store sales for the Buca di Beppo concept will increase 3-5% in the H2 of this year.

“We have opened nine new Buca di Beppo restaurants since the start of the year. This group of new restaurants, including the newest additions in the Q2, continue to be the strongest openings in our history, averaging more than US$71,000 per week in sales to date.”

Micatrotto concluded: “We continue to expect earnings per share growth of nearly 50% for fiscal 2002, with fully diluted earnings per share of approximately 17 cents in the Q2, 19 cents in the Q3 and 26 cents in the Q4. For the full year, we project fully diluted earnings per share of about 74 cents. We expect that the Vinny Testa’s concept and the Buca di Beppo concept will generate combined sales of about US$250,000 in fiscal 2002.”